NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 161: NYY vs. TEX — 6th inning spirals into big loss

Yankee fans in the crowd tonight at Arlington watched a game that began with high hopes to see New York win its 104th game of the season, only to see it all fall apart in the 6th inning. It reminded me of growing up a Tribe fan when my dad and I would watch Cleveland start well, only to lose it all in the final innings.

I know, I know! Cleveland isn’t New York. But the game tonight reminded of those times watching my dad’s team battle on, only to have hope deferred. But then I am reminded that the Yankees have already secured their playoff spot as the 2019 AL East champs, and all that hope returns!

Luis Severino started for New York to face the Texas Rangers and threw 72 pitches over 3 innings. In the 1st, Severino gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a strike out swinging. After another walk, Severino gave up a double that allowed both runners to score. After a mound visit and yet another walk, the 2 runners made a double steal, but an infield ground out ended the inning.

Severino found his normal momentum in the 2nd, quickly shutting down 3 batters with 3 solid strikeouts. But in the 3rd, Severino allowed his 4th walk before 3 outs to close out the inning and keep it a close game.

David Hale took the mound in the 4th, giving up a double and a walk. Another double scored both runners, so after a strike out, Hale was replaced by Tyler Lyons who eventually ended the inning with no further allowed runs. Luis Cessa took the helm in the 5th. Despite some allowed base runners, some solid defense got him out of the inning scoreless.

And then came that aforementioned 6th inning — where everything fell apart for the Yankees. Cessa returned to the mound and gave up consecutive singles and a a walk that loaded the bases. He then gave up another walk that scored a run and kept the bases loaded. After a mound visit, Cessa finally got a nice strikeout.

With just that one out and the bases still loaded, Nestor Cortes Jr. replaced Cessa and promptly gave up a grand slam, solidly placing the home team in the lead. Another 3 singles and 1 run later, this 6-run inning mercifully ended. Heller took over for Cortes in the 7th and successfully retired the side. Something Gearrin followed up in the 8th to shut down the Rangers’ big night.

The Yankee lineup started well in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge sent a triple deep to center. A sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner allowed Judge to score and put the Yankees on the scoreboard first. There was a few other chances for the Yankees when they actually got base runners, but they really failed to put runners in scoring position until the 9th inning.

Down by 8 runs, there was a glimmer of hope as Frazier worked a walked and moved to 3rd on Wade’s single. Voit’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Didi Gregorius sent a 3-run RBI double to right field to clear the bases. Yankee hopes were running high despite 2 outs, but chances to score more runs ran out when a fly ball to right field was caught for the final out of the game.

Final score: 9-4 Rangers

This day in Yankee history: On September 28, 1923, in a game facing the the rival Boston Red Sox, and with legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on the team, the New York Yankees tallied up 30 hits that included just 2 home runs (one by Ruth) and 8 doubles to earn a single-game franchise record that is still unbroken almost a century later. And most of their runs that day came in (you guessed it) the 6th inning. The final score on that day 96 years ago — 24-4, Yankees!

Go Yankees!

 

Game 152: LAA vs. NYY: Shutout in the Bronx for the 99th win

After a long (and disappointing) weekend across our northern border, the Yankees were back home in the Bronx for to host the Los Angeles Angels. It ended up being a good game for the hometown crowd that witnessed another strong pitching debut this season.

Yankee Stadium welcomed back Luis Severino who took the mound for the first time since last year’s division series playoffs. Severino pitched 4 scoreless innings to a constantly cheering hometown crowd, giving up 2 hits and 2 walks and striking out 4 LA batters. Unlike Betances who was injured in his debut on Sunday, Severino came out of the game healthy and ready for the playoffs.

Loaisiga came on in relief of Severino, pitching 2 full innings, allowing 1 walk, but striking out 3 batters and allowed no runs. Tarpley took over in the 7th inning, giving up a single to center, followed by a wild pitch and a hit by pitch to put runners on the corners. But Tarpley managed to get that last strikeout to get out of the jam. He gave up 2 singles in the 8th and was replaced by Gearrin, the inning ending with a solid double play and no runs. In the top of the 9th, Adams took the mound, giving up a walk and single to center, but keeping the Angels scoreless and closed out the game with two solid strikeouts.

After a quiet 1st inning for Yankee batters, the 2nd inning began with a solid line drive to left by Torres and a walk by Voit. An RBI single to left by Gio Urshela scored Torres and gave the Yankees an early lead. Cameron Maybin doubled to left field that moved Urshela to 3rd and allowed Voit to score.

But it was the 4th inning that padded the lead for the Yankees. Urshela singled, moved to 2nd on a single by Maybin, and scored on a single by DJ LeMahieu. Judge’s walk loaded the bases, and Didi Gregorius then hit a 2-run double, scoring Maybin and LeMahieu. Finally, a 3-run home run hit by Gleyber Torres to left center field allowed Judge and Gregorius to cross the plate.

That 4th inning ended with the Yankees way ahead, much to the delight of the cheering hometown crowd.  Except for a few walks and a couple singles, the final innings were quiet for the Yankee lineup. But the Angels were kept scoreless the entire game for the Yankee win tonight.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

Injury updates: Dellin Betances made his season debut in Toronto over the weekend, but he’s now back on the IL and is out for the rest of the season. Returning to New York with a sore ankle, tests today revealed a partially torn left Achilles tendon that apparently happened when Betances jumped on the mound in celebration after his second strikeout in Sunday’s game. After working so hard to come back this season, and with a strong outing facing the Blue Jays, this is truly heart-breaking, season-ending news for Betances.

Our congratulations to retired Yankee pitcher, Mariano “The Sandman” Rivera,  who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, on Monday at the White House. The Hall of Famer, a 13-time All Star with 5 World Series Championships, entered the ceremony to his familiar entrance music, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. Rivera received this well-deserved award for his extraordinary contributions to sports, culture, and the community.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 151: NYY vs. TOR — Pinstripe troubles in Canada

Today’s game in Toronto may have been disappointing for New York, but the good news is that the Yankees welcomed back Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery to the mound.  Unfortunately, the Yankees could not capitalize on it for the win in today’s rubber match.

Chad Green took command of the ball as the “opener” for just the 1st inning. Throwing 19 pitches, 12 for strikes, Green gave up a double, but allowed no runs. In the 2nd, Jordan Montgomery took the mound, his first start for the Yankees since last year’s Tommy John surgery. After 2 quick outs, Montgomery gave up a double to left. A single allowed that runner to score. Montgomery then allowed another double and thus another run before a strike out swinging ended the inning. And in the 3rd, Montgomery game up a 1-out solo homer.

Dellin Betances got his long-awaited season debut in the 4th. With the game tied, Betances faced 2 batters for 8 pitches and 2 strong strikeouts before Nestor Cortes, Jr. was called upon to end the inning with a solid strikeout. Cortes had some trouble in the 5th, giving up a bunt single, a walk, and a 3-run home run to put Toronto ahead. He then gave up another single and walk before a line out to right field ended the inning and the threat.

In the 6th inning, Heller replaced Cortes, Jr. giving up a walk and a sacrifice bunt, but no runs. Heller remained on the mound in the 7th for 3 straight strikeouts. Lyons took the mound in the 8th for 2 strikeouts and a line out to right field.

In the 1st, the Yankees were the first to score when Aaron Judge hit his 23rd homer of the season to right field. Wade hit a 1-out single in the 3rd and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Judge worked a walk, and a single by Didi Gregorius that allowed LeMahieu to score.

After 3 quiet innings for the Yankee batters, the 7th inning began with a double sent to left field by Romine. LeMahieu reached base on a throwing error that also allowed Romine to score. Despite a few base runners, the Yankees were unable to capitalize on any further scoring opportunities.

Final score 6-4 Toronto, Toronto takes the series 2-1

Next up: After a travel day tomorrow, the Yankees head home for a 3-game series against the Angels, when Luis Severino is expected to make his season debut with the team on Tuesday. The Blue Jays come to the Bronx to close out the home stand next weekend before the Yankees hit the road for their last week of the regular season, visiting the Rays and Rangers.

Roster moves: Before today’s game, both Jordan Montgomery and Dellin Betances were activated and added to today roster. In order to make room for them on the 40-man roster and prepare them for the postseason roster, the Yankees transferred pitcher Jonathan Holder from the 10-day to the 60-day IL due to his lingering shoulder inflammation. They also designated reliever Ryan Dull for assignment.

Go Yankees!

Game 147 & 148: NYY vs. DET : Striped duel as the Pinstripes sweep the Tigers

After last night’s game was postponed due to rain, the Yankees met the Tigers today for a single-admission doubleheader in Detroit. Today’s duel gave New York their 97th win of the season, putting them in 1st place in the American League.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to start the game. Happ threw 99 pitches giving up 7 hits. After giving up a home run to right center field in the bottom of the 5th that allowed 2 runs, Chad Green took over and closed the inning with a pop out in foul territory near 1st base. Green secured 3 swift outs in the 6th, but in the 7th, gave up a triple that scored the runner on a ground out.

Ben Heller took to the mound in the 8th and struck out swinging the first batter, but gave up a homer to left followed by a walk and a single before retiring the inning on a fly ball out to center. Gearrin started the 9th inning and immediately gave up a double to right field, a call that was reviewed as a possible homer before being upheld as a double. Gearrin gave up a ground out and a walk before being replaced by Lyons who finished the 9th with a strike out swinging and a fly out to secure the Yankees a win.

The Yankees were first to score today when Judge reached base in the 1st inning on a fielding error and then scored on a Luke Voit 2-run home run to center field.  In the 3rd, Judge walked and scored again on another homer, this time hit by Edwin Encarnacion deep to left field, giving the Yankees a solid lead.

After a Detroit pitching change in the 7th, Aaron Judge walked, followed by a double that Voit sent down the right field line and moved Judge to 3rd. Gregorius was intentionally walked to load the bases. Judge then scored on a wild pitch, moving the other runners up. Cameron Maybin came to the plate and doubled to both score Voit and Gregorius to give the Yankees a good lead. Romine and Judge both singled in the 8th, and a single by Voit scored Romine. And Didi Gregorius tripled to score both Judge and Voit.

Final score: 10-4 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up of Sept. 11)
The second game of tonight’s two-game match-up in Detroit welcomed CC Sabathia back to the mound for New York, throwing 56 pitches into 4 strong innings against the Tigers. Sabathia set another milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer and former Braves’ ace John Smoltz on the strikeout list with his 3085th strikeout tonight in Detroit.

But in the 4th, Sabathia gave up a walk, a single, and a double that scored 2 runs. And with just 1 out, German came on in relief. He threw 50 pitches into the 8th, giving up just 2 hits in his scoreless outing. He gave up a single and hit a batter in the 8th, German was replaced by Tommy Kahnle who secured two outs on a double play by the infield to end the 8th inning. Kahnle was back in the 9th, but after a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple that scored a run, Aroldis Chapman was called in. Chapman allowed a single, but followed that up with a swinging strikeout and force out for another New York save and win.

First up for the Yankees in this second game of the day was LeMahieu, who singled and scored on an Aaron Judge’s home run for an early lead. In the 2nd, Mike Ford grounded a single to right and scored on a double line drive to right by DJ LeMahieu. With the Yankees in a slim lead in the 5th, a ground-rule double by Wade, followed by a single to center by Didi Gregorius that allowed Wade to score.

After 3 quiet innings that kept the Yankees in the lead, Voit sent a line drive single to left field and scored on a home run to left by Gio Urshela. Yankee pitching ended the game in the 9th despite a late charge by the Tigers.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Toronto to face another division rival this weekend before heading home for the final homestand of the season to host the Angels and Blue Jays. They will then close out their season visiting the Rays and Rangers on their way to the postseason.

Injury update: JA Happ left this afternoon’s game after throwing an impressive 99 pitches due to bicep tendonitis that has bothered him for his last few starts. Hopefully, this is just a cautionary move to check with the doctor before deciding when or if Happ is back on the mound.

Edwin Encarnacion also left today’s game, right after a walk due to a strain to his left oblique. He will head back to New York for further tests. And in the second game of this doubleheader, Gary Sanchez left the field in the 4th inning with tightness in his left groin possibly due to his stealing base in the 3rd. Sanchez was replaced by Higashioka. If Sanchez is sidelined for awhile, Romine and Higashioka will share playing time.

Finally, congratulations go to CC Sabathia for being nominated as the Yankee candidate for the 2019 Robert Clemente Award, given for sportsmanship, community involvement, and contribution to baseball. Sabathia is an easy nomination for this award between his career-long tenacity and teamwork on the field and passion for his community through his own foundation. The award winner, voted on by both fans and the media, will be announced during the World Series in October. (You can vote here for Sabathia.)

Go Yankees!

Game 146: NYY vs. DET — Sloppy pitching battle

After a successful series in Boston that put New York solidly in first place in the AL East, the Yankees arrived in Detroit for a 3-game series. The evening match-up was tied for most of the game as homers were hit out of the park, records were broken, and each team battled to gain the win in a tight game that ultimately left Yankee fans disappointed.

Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the start in the opener and threw 46 pitches for a tough outing, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs into the 3rd inning. The Yankees had a strong lead in the 3rd inning, 6-0, when Cortes, Jr. allowed Detroit their first 2 runs and was quickly replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 4 more runs to tie the game.

In the 4th inning, Cessa managed 3 ground outs in a row. But by the 5th, with the Yankees back in the lead by 2, Cessa allowed a home run on a fly ball to right field to bring Detroit to within 1 run of the Yankees.

In the 6th, Gearrin replaced Cessa and allowed 2 single grounders and an out before being replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga. Giving up 2 singles, 2 walks, and a sacrifice fly that tied the game, Loaisiga was replaced by Dull for the final out of a messy inning.

With New York ahead by just a run in the 7th, Adam Ottavino took command of the ball, allowing 1 run to tie the game. Then Britton came on for the 8th for 3 quick outs, and Chance Adams took over in the 9th with the game tied. But Adams gave up a double and single that allowed Detroit to score the winning run.

The game started well for the Bronx Bombers with a record-breaking home run in the 1st inning for Brett Gardner, his 22nd homer this year, marking a career season high for the veteran outfielder. But that was only the beginning for a big night for the Yankees.

In the 2nd inning, they began with a double by Urshela, who then scored on a single by Mike Ford. Frazier’s single to left moved Ford to 2nd, and Tyler Wade’s triple scored both Ford and Frazier. Wade then scored on another homer from Gardner, his 23rd this year, breaking his own career record he set earlier tonight. It was also Gardner’s 8th career multi-home run game, not bad for not a power-hitter. The inning ended with a seemingly secure lead for the Yankees.

But with the game tied up in the 4th, Gleyber Torres broke it by sending a home run to the Green Monster to get back the lead. The Yankees were still ahead in the 5th when Didi Gregorius smacked a solo homer. And in the 7th, Sanchez singled and scored on a game-tying homer by Edwin Encarnacion’s 33rd home run of the season.

After a Detroit pitching change, Didi Gregorius hit another home run to right to give the Yankees a 1-run lead. But with the game tied in the 9th, the Yankees were unable to get in scoring position again, as the Tigers gained a run for the win.

Final score: 12-11 Detroit

Injury update: Aaron Hicks‘ season is officially over. His initial diagnosis was a flexor strain due to a throw about a month ago. But later tests revealed UCL issues around his throwing elbow. He’s seen several physicians, and the idea of surgery (yes, that Tommy John kind of surgery) is still on the table as his injury isn’t a clear-cut as most injuries that require that surgery. It’s not ideal, but if it helps the veteran outfielder in the long run, it could be worth the missed part of the season, as it was for Gregorius this last year.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 140: TEX vs. NYY: Big Maple in command

After yesterday’s dreary shutout at Yankee Stadium, tonight’s team roared back with a near shutout of their own. A strong pitching outing from New York in the form of James Paxton and Jonathan Loaisiga, plus stellar defense and more record-breaking batting, showed the crowd why the Yankees are on a hopeful path to the Fall Classic this year.

James Paxton, “Big Maple”, took a firm command of the mound for the Yankees tonight. He faced the Rangers and easily breezed his way through the lineup for 7 scoreless phenomenal innings.

A pitching change in top of the 8th brought Jonathan Loaisiga to the mound allowing a walk, but the defense easily shut down the inning with a double play by the Wade-Gregorius-Voit combination to keep the Yankees firmly in the lead. Loaisiga was back in the 9th, and while allowing one home run, the New York defense shut down the inning with a final ground out maintaining the Yankee lead for a solid win for the pinstripes tonight.

The Yankee bats were alive and well throughout the game. In the 1st, Gary Sanchez sent a fly ball over the fence in center field for the first home run, scoring Didi Gregorius and the Yankees were on the board and in the lead 2-0.

In the 6th, LeMahieu and Aaron Judge singled on grounders and scored on Didi Gregorius’ homer to right center field. Gary Sanchez followed him with another homer also to right center. Encarnacion then singled and scored on a home run sent to right field by Brett Gardner to increase their lead over Texas.

The 7th inning saw Sanchez take his base after being hit by a pitch and promptly scored on a fly ball home run to left field from Edwin Encarnacion, placing the Yankees ahead by double-digit runs, and a shutout seemed probable. But then that homer in the 9th gave a run back to the Rangers that quashed the near shutout. It was quite the game. Another strong display of the the range of talent the Yankees have in abundance this year.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees

Injury update: CC Sabathia remains on the IL until at least Sept. 10. After his knee was drained and treated with a cortisone shot and lubricant, Sabathia is feeling better but has yet to test the knee. Apparently on a “wait and see” list, his day-to-day will be monitored in hopes to see Sabathia on the mound at least once more before his retires. Whether he gets to pitch again this season or not, Sabathia’s legacy is already well established.

While pitchers David Hale and Jake Barrett are definitely out for the season, others like Dellin Betances, Thairo Estrada, Aaron Hicks, Gio Urshela, Jordan Montgomery, Stephen Tarpley, Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Holder, and Luis Severino are expected to return in later this month. A few, like Montgomery, are already starting their rehab assignments to work their way back to the Bronx.

Go Yankees!